Illegal workers arrested at Posco Argentina operation

Posco’s test facility for processing brine in Argentina. (Reference image by Posco).

Argentina’s National Migrations Directorate, National Labour Directorate and Federal Police carried out an operation in the northwestern Salta province that ended up with 15 people arrested for working illegally for Posco Argentina, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Posco. 

The illegal workers had entered Argentina under tourist visas and started working for the mining company at the Güemes Industrial Park.

Together with Canada’s Lithium South Development, Posco is developing the Hombre Muerto lithium project. Phosphate from Hombre Muerto is transported by train to a plant in Güemes for processing. 

Following the arrests, the Asian miner issued a statement saying that the company did not directly employ the workers as they were subcontractors. 

“It is important to emphasize that all of them entered lawfully and had no criminal record,” the communiqué reads. “Sanctions will be applied to any contracting company that does not comply with regularizing the situation of its employees. It is important to clarify that all direct personnel of Posco Argentina work in compliance with the laws and regulations of the country. The company’s actions are guided by the highest ethical and legal standards, which is why we deeply regret this situation.”

In response to Posco, the Salta Chamber of Mining Companies Suppliers (Capemisa) released a statement saying its members support all the controls and inspections carried out by authorities as laws must be complied with at the national, provincial and municipal levels. 

Capemisa used the opportunity to make some observations related to the way the province’s mining industry is operating. 

“Lately, foreign companies win tenders quoted at lower values than their real costs to not pay taxes in the country. They are also notorious for pretending to be local, using partners who clearly do not even have a mining background nor the ability to perform mining work or who act as proxies to pretend to be a local company,” the release states. “These irregularities were reported on different occasions to the relevant authorities because they cause serious damage, ruining Salta companies that fairly compete by paying taxes in the country and employing regular workers.”

The Chamber’s document says that its members are open to working with authorities and mining companies to implement a supplier and tender valuation system similar to what exists in Chile so that this type of situation doesn’t happen again. 


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